While there are undoubtedly many benefits of a minimalist lifestyle, one of the most tangible and immediately noticeable is that you spend less time cleaning.
Personally, I went from stressing about my house all the time (it used to feel like I was always cleaning yet seemingly never making any progress!) to rarely worrying or even thinking about housework.
On average, I spend a half-hour each day cleaning plus an extra hour or so each week to tidy up loose ends. I’m not sure how this compares to the “average” household but I feel really good about this—I’m not stressed or overwhelmed, even with a toddler at home.
If you’d like to know more, keep reading to learn how minimalism and minimalist cleaning routines can help you spend less time cleaning too.
Before we get started, I feel like I should mention that I am not a naturally tidy person. In fact, I held off on writing this post for a long time because I feel so unqualified—no one who knows me would ever call me a good homemaker!
Not that there’s anything wrong with being a good homemaker—it’s just not me. I don’t find joy in keeping a tidy home and what I want instead is for housework to be a non-issue in my life. I want to spend less time cleaning (or even thinking about cleaning) so I can focus on other things instead.
After all, that is ultimately what minimalism is all about—doing more of what matters and less of everything else. If this feels relatable to you, then you’re in the right place! ?
How to Spend Less Time Cleaning
Here are there are 3 key steps to spending less time cleaning:
- Declutter your home
- Change your expectations
- Create minimalist cleaning routines
Let’s look at each of these steps in a bit more detail.
How to Declutter Your Home
Decluttering is an essential first step if you want to spend less time cleaning because if you have less stuff, you have less stuff to clean!
Everything from laundry to picking up toys becomes easier when there is less to deal with. For example, I have a toddler and like most young children she likes to “play” by dumping all of her toys onto the floor.
It’s OK though—it doesn’t stress me out because I know that even if she dragged out every single toy she owns, I could still clean it up in 15 minutes or less. That is the joy and benefit of a decluttered home.
If you want some advice on how to get started with decluttering (or perhaps how to follow through if you’ve tried before) then I invite you to download a copy of Mindful Decluttering, my step-by-step decluttering guide and workbook.
It’s free for subscribers—just enter your details into the form below—and as a bonus, you’ll also get my regular newsletter with personal stories and tips about simple and intentional living.
Changing Your Expectations About a Clean Home
The next step to spending less time cleaning is to change your expectations about a clean home.
Let’s get real for a minute—I’m not saying you have to be happy living in a pigsty BUT you do have to let go of unrealistic expectations.
Whether we want to admit it or not, we all have a limited amount of time and energy. There are only 24 hours in a day and most of us want to sleep, eat, work, etc. Your actual “free time” is probably pretty limited— so you need to ask yourself some tough questions about how you want to spend it.
Ask yourself what matters most to you. Is it really a spotless home?
Of course, I can’t speak for everyone but I realised a long time ago that my desire for a clean, showroom worthy home was mostly motivated by fear. I was worried about being judged if my home didn’t look like something out of a magazine (and realistically, it never did so this just stressed me out all of the time!).
Yes, I enjoy living in a tidy home but when I stopped worrying about other people’s opinions, I realised that the level of cleanliness that brought me personal joy wasn’t as high as I thought. I don’t need perfection to be happy.
Instead, I’ve realised that I’m willing to leave a few crumbs on the floor if it means I can read my daughter an extra book or linger in bed with my husband for a few minutes longer in the morning.
Your personal standards are just that—personal— but if housework is causing you a lot of stress I definitely recommend you look at your expectations.
Yes, things like cleaning routines will help (more on that in a minute) but no cleaning “hack” is going to help you if your expectations are genuinely unrealistic.
“Our house is clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy.”Unknown
My Minimalist Cleaning Routines
The final piece of the puzzle is creating minimalist cleaning routines —and I think the best way to explain this is by sharing some of my personal routines with you.
First for context, a little bit about my living situation:
- I live in a 2 bedroom, 660 square foot apartment with one bathroom.
- I share my home with my husband and two-year-old daughter.
- My husband works full-time and depending on the time of year, evenings too.
- I’m self-employed and I work from home three days a week while my daughter is in daycare. I have a strict rule about NOT doing housework when I’m supposed to be working.
Now on to my routines!
MY “POWER HALF-HOUR” MINIMALIST CLEANING ROUTINE
The foundation of my clean home is my evening cleaning routine, which I refer to as my “power half-hour”. Here’s how it works.
Every night, as part of my daughter’s bedtime routine, she takes a half-hour bath. My husband gives her a bath so during this time, I do a power clean.
I start by having a mini-coffee (usually leftover from earlier in the day), I put on a motivating playlist—and then I get moving!
The main things I do every day during this time are:
- wash dishes
- clean all the kitchen surfaces
- put away all toys and random items around the house
- laundry (more details below)
This might sound like a lot but to be honest, it usually doesn’t take up the full 30 minutes.
We have a small kitchen and I always soak dirty dishes throughout the day. (I rarely wash dishes as I go because I prefer to batch tasks and do it all at once.) Also, I practise simple eating so there aren’t tons of pots and pans to wash. I usually finish cleaning the kitchen in 15 minutes or less.
Note: I do unload the dishwasher in the morning but we have a half-sized machine so it only takes a few minutes. I usually do it while I’m waiting for my coffee to brew!
Next, I tidy up but this genuinely doesn’t take long. Our house is small, we don’t have tons of stuff and almost everything has its place. This means putting things away only takes a few minutes.
I’ll explain more about laundry below because it deserves its own section, but I usually spend less than 10 minutes a day dealing with it.
This means that after doing my everyday cleaning jobs I usually have a few minutes left. This is an opportunity to tackle some deeper cleaning.
I don’t have a set daily schedule; instead, I just look around and see what needs to be done. This might include:
- A quick vacuum
- Wiping down mirrors or windows
- Changing the bedding
- A quick bathroom clean (toilet and sink)
I do as much as I can but when bathtime is over I am strictly done with cleaning for the day.
Initially, this was for practical reasons. We have a very small house and I can’t clean after my daughter goes to bed without waking her up.
However, now that I’ve had this routine in place for a few years, I’ve realised this boundary is actually a blessing for my wellbeing. It has forced me to say “good enough is good enough”— whatever doesn’t get done gets left for the next day and I’ve found peace with that.
Having said that, I rarely have to deal with those feelings. Because I’ve already decluttered and worked on my expectations, 30 minutes is usually long enough for me. Most nights I go to bed with that feeling of satisfaction you get when you know your home is clean and it’s the very best!
I should mention that sometimes my husband works nights and when this happens, I do my best to adjust my routine. I clean what I can before I give my daughter her bath and if everything isn’t done, it’s OK. One of the benefits of a minimalist home is that catching up never takes too long.
THE “LOOSE ENDS”
As long as I stick with my daily cleaning routine, I usually only need an hour or so to tidy up “loose ends” throughout the week. This includes things like mopping the floors, cleaning the shower, cleaning out the fridge, etc. or maybe catching up on laundry.
I don’t have a set time for this hour but it’s usually on the weekends and never when my daughter is sleeping. (I have a rule that I don’t do housework during nap time!)
My husband usually helps too with things like taking out the rubbish, folding laundry, cleaning any leftover dishes etc. but honestly, because we keep things simple there isn’t a ton to do.
In fact, I’ve found that if I get behind (when my husband works a lot of nights or someone’s sick) that I can do a complete top to bottom clean in about two hours. This is definitely one of the benefits of living in a small home!
My Minimalist Laundry Routine
Finally, let’s talk about laundry. I know this is a real headache for a lot of people so I thought I’d cover this in-depth. I actually do quite a lot of laundry, about seven loads a week including:
- one load of darks
- one load of lights
- two loads of cloth nappies (diapers)
- two loads of towels/cleaning cloths/napkins
- one load of bedding
Writing that out, it feels like a lot because before we had kids, I probably only washed one or two loads of laundry a week! Sometimes I could even go a week without doing any laundry at all!
But things have changed and that’s OK. We made the decision to use cloth nappies for environmental reasons (although we still use disposables too) so this obviously means more to wash.
We also stopped using paper towels, napkins etc. and with a messy toddler, this means a lot of rags and napkins to wash. (Not to mention the increase in dirty clothes from sticky little fingers, haha!)
Still, I don’t find laundry stressful—it’s genuinely a non-issue for me—and here are a few reasons why.
First of all, I think it’s important to remind you that I live in a small house and honestly, this makes life SO much easier!
There’s no running up and down the stairs to get to the washing machine or to put laundry away. Instead, everything is nice and close so doing laundry is easily integrated into our daily rhythms.
For example, one thing I do is sort laundry directly into our washing machine. If I know the next load is dark clothing, then any dirty dark clothing goes directly into the washing machine.
This is easy to do because our machine is right next to our bathroom and while it’s just a small thing, the small things definitely add up and save a lot of time in the long run!
I know that living in a small house isn’t possible for everyone but if you have the opportunity to downsize, I highly recommend considering it.
OK—on to my laundry routine!
- I usually put on a load of laundry every morning. This takes two seconds to do and honestly, I don’t even count this as time spent cleaning.
- When the laundry is done, I leave it in the machine until the evening— with a few exceptions.
- I always hang the cloth nappies out as soon as I can because they need to air out in the sun. (We air dry most of our laundry except for towels and sheets in the winter.) This takes about five minutes to do because we don’t use cloth nappies full time.
- Also, when my daughter is home with me during the week, I’ll often hang laundry with her because she loves to “help mummy” — it’s a game for her and I actually enjoy it because it’s something we do together.
Finally, during my evening cleaning routine, I hang up wet laundry and put away clean laundry. This usually only takes me around 10 minutes a day (and often less).
Here are some tips that make it quick and easy:
- Anything that gets hung in the closet gets hung on a hanger to dry. This makes it easier to put away and keeps things wrinkle-free (and by the way, I don’t do any ironing).
- I dry most of my clothes on a rack in my bedroom. This means that when I take dry clothes off the rack, they get put away immediately.
- I don’t bother folding pyjamas, workout gear, socks, undies, etc. No Marie Kondo folding for me— they just get tossed into the drawer!
- I do fold most of my daughter’s clothes and towels but I put it off until I’m watching TV or relaxing on the sofa. It’s a mindless task so I don’t waste mental energy on it.
That’s it! I find it all really stress-free and easy to stay on top of.
Tips for Creating Your Own Minimalist Cleaning Routines
Here are a few tips to help you create your own minimalist cleaning routines:
- Look at your existing routines, rituals and rhythms.
What are your existing routines? What can you stack or add on to make life easier?
For example, my evening cleaning routine feels painless because it’s an extension of my minimalist daily routine. It was easy for me to adapt because I was simply adding a few more steps onto an existing routine.
- Pay attention to the flow and layout of your home.
Can you use or manipulate the layout of your home to your advantage? For example, I used to keep my laundry drying rack in my living room but now I keep it in my bedroom.
It’s actually only a few feet closer because we live in such a small house but it really does make putting laundry away that much quicker. These small “hacks” (like sorting dirty laundry directly into the machine) really do add up and save time.
- Use time to create boundaries.
If you want to spend less time cleaning, consider deciding how much time you want to spend cleaning first and then work backwards from there.
I found this really helpful because honestly, cleaning your home can be an endless task. it’s easy to feel like there’s always something else to do so you need to set boundaries or you’ll never have peace of mind!
One way to do this is to start with your priorities—if you know you want to spend time with your partner AND have time for self-care each night, this might mean you only have 45 minutes available for cleaning.
Trying sticking to this limit and see what happens. Personally, I find having boundaries makes me SO much more productive and I actually surprise myself with how much I accomplish in 30 minutes.
- What feels pointless?
Ok, this is a little hard to articulate—but ask yourself what feels pointless?
For example, I used to pick up after my daughter all day but it felt like a waste of time. I was picking things up and then an hour later, the same toys would be on the floor again!
So you know what? I don’t pick up toys during the day anymore. Instead, I wait until the evening, spend five minutes cleaning, and I’m done.
What else is pointless in your life? Are you shuffling papers from place to place? Dusting something over and over that never gets used? If so, maybe you need to declutter or consider a new perspective.
Remember, just because you’ve always done something in the past doesn’t mean you have to continue doing it.
Ultimately, I’ve found that if you want to spend less time cleaning, sometimes you just have to decide to spend less time cleaning!
There are no magic hacks. Instead, it’s all about intentionality and alignment (which are truly the foundations of minimalism).
How do you feel about housework? What are your biggest struggles? Or what tips have helped you feel more at ease? Let us know in the comments! x